Why the great outdoors is good for you

Home may be where the heart is. But if you want to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit, it’s vital to get away from your four walls to enjoy some fresh air and green space.

With remote working, streaming, online shopping and fast food deliveries, many of us are spending more and more time in our homes. However, if the COVID-19 lockdowns have taught us anything, it’s not just the importance of having a change of scene and being able to socialise. It’s also about getting out in the fresh air for some exercise, which can have huge benefits, not just for our physical fitness, but also for our mental health.

A body of evidence

Research has shown that being outdoors can lower your stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate, while boosting your mood. In 2018, a study by King’s College London found that trees, birdsong, open skies and feeling in contact with nature are all associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing. And a systematic review of greenspace exposure and health outcomes by researchers at the University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School suggests that being in the countryside has wide-ranging health benefits, including reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol, as well as lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Physical exercise is known to release endorphins, sometimes known as ‘feel-good’ chemicals, which can trigger positivity in your mind and body. This ‘euphoric’ response is one of the reasons so many people are addicted to running and cycling.

Catching some rays

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, and can also help boost the immune system. Our bodies create vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors. In spring and summer, it’s possible to get all the vitamin D you need simply by getting out of the house into the sunshine.

A chance to be mindful

Some experts believe that being outdoors can help with mindfulness, or the idea of living in the moment, a key strategy for dealing with stress and mental health issues. It’s thought that we’re more able to focus on the present if we’re in the calm environment of the countryside, rather than being at home, where we’re often surrounded by noises and other distractions.

The perfect wellness activity

One of the best ways to boost your physical and mental health is to hop on two wheels and take to the road. The hugely increased popularity of cycling in recent years is testament to the life-enhancing benefits people get from this age-old pastime.

One of the big growth areas is group cycling, whether that’s a weekly outing with a club or perhaps a few days away on an organised cycling break. And it’s easy to see why. Group cycling and cycling tours tick all the boxes for physical and mental health, combining low-impact aerobic exercise with fresh air, access to open countryside and a chance to share the experience with friends or family.

Something for everyone

Cycle touring is also suitable for people of all ages and levels of fitness. You can choose to challenge yourself or go for an easy ride. Routes can be planned with participants’ abilities in mind and it’s easy to build in stops for refreshments. Along the way, you can take in a wealth of sights and scenery, making it perfect for exploring the natural wonders, history and culture of the local area.

In our fast-moving, technology-driven age, we all need time and space to relax, recharge and revitalise. You’re unlikely to find true physical and mental wellness on social media or in a virtual reality headset. But you will find it in a place where people have sought solace and serenity for centuries: the great outdoors.

Thank you for reading


Discover OnVenture

Speak to the team at OnVenture about booking an active weekend break in Suffolk. There is plenty to choose from, from road and off-road cycling to running, hiking, walking, swimming, and triathlon themed adventures. Plus, we also offer specialist coaching camps, so if you are training for that special event, get in touch.

Call: 07810 646569